Wolf in the Shadow Got 5 Stars!

Thin Book no backgroundThanks so much for the 5-star Amazon review for Wolf in the Shadow! It’s nice to hear when someone enjoys one of my books.

In other news, there’s a new Yuletide recipe on my website. This is a fun part of the world-building for me, and it helps me to get in the right head space to really work in the world. I think it adds something to the reality of a fictional world if there are everyday things, like recipes, to think about. None of mine are that complicated because I’m not a master chef; I just like to play in the kitchen. So, kick back with some rada’ke cakes and enjoy your Yuletide season.

Rada’ke Cakes

In 5168 AOP, Steamreach Coal set up operations and brought humans to an area that had been sparsely inhabited by other creatures. The workers came from the Xaggarene Empire, Moirena, and Corleon, and the traditions that had always sustained them soon morphed into a culture all its own. Most people meet in taverns on the eve of Yuletide for community-wide parties that carry far into Yuletide morn. Gifts tend to be handmade or practical in nature and are exchanged among friends as much as family. There are few private celebrations of this holiday in the Shizzuria Wasteland, though there are those who prefer to be alone.

Ginger CakesRada’ke is a cheap Yuletide dessert popular in the mining towns of the Shizzuria Wasteland. Since many of the miners have little to spare, their holiday lacks the opulence seen in other parts of Grevared. The main Yuletide meal consists of game, preserved fruits and vegetables, and rough bread made from what little flour can be spared. As work tends to continue, regardless of the day, celebrations are short but intense.

Rada’ke is a chewy, cake-like treat topped with a piece of dried or candied fruit. The fruit varies depending on what is available.


1 ½ c premade, add water pancake mix

½ c dark brown sugar

½ – 1 c water

Candied fruit of your choice

1-2 teaspoons ginger paste

1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cloves

1-2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ – ½ c self-rising flour


  1. Preheat over to 350°.
  2. Grease baking sheet.
  3. Combine pancake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl. Add ginger paste and vanilla. (The amount of spices depends on taste.)
  4. Add water a little at a time until you have a very soft dough. The consistency should be a touch softer than spritz cookie dough. If you add too much water, add flour until the dough is the right consistency. (I used flour in mine.)
  5. Mix well.
  6. Spoon or spritz dough onto greased baking sheet (the dough will not hold its shape well). Add a piece of dried or candied fruit to the top of each one.
  7. Bake 10-15 minutes until the edges are a darker brown. Cake will be springy.


Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs




Technology in Grevared

steam-train-512508_1920We live in a technological world full of smart phones, computers, and things some of us will probably never understand. For the most part, this technology has gone from point A to point B, not necessarily in a straight line, but moving forward nonetheless.

I was a kid during the reign of Atari and Commodore 64, and the only computer language I ever knew was Basic. Now, my phone has more capabilities than my first computer, and I’m lucky to figure out how to make a blog post. (And it only works half the time.)

Science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk all have their versions of technology, too. Some of it is beyond our wildest dreams, while other parts take us back to the middle ages. Regardless of which genre we’re reading, though, there are those who expect the technology to progress the same way it did in our world.

Grevared doesn’t really work that way, not entirely. For example, I had a reader ask me the other day why a tavern owner used oil lamps if the society had things like steam locomotives and Cold Boxes (refrigerators). There’s a simple answer for that. All electricity in Grevared is run on generators, which are expensive to own and operate. Families and business owners who use electricity must decide what they will use it on, and most choose a Cold Box or something similar rather than light, which can be obtained through other means. No one has installed power lines that carry electricity from place to place because they haven’t thought of it yet. Why not? When our world figured it out fairly quickly? Well…it isn’t our world.

GrevaredResources on Grevared are most definitely finite. The pieces of land exist in a void space, and you can walk off the edge of the world. These resources must be guarded carefully if the world is to survive, so, while they are willing to create some technological luxuries, there are many others that would destroy their world were they to come into being.

However, that isn’t to say that technology aided by magic doesn’t happen. There are creatures called animated corpses that are purely technological, at least in a sense. A small copper chip attached to wires is run through the nervous system and allows the creature to move and follow basic orders. The chip can be removed and read by a machine. Technological, right? Not entirely. There’s a good bit of magic that goes into making the process work. The same is true of the seventh hell demon prison, Brimstone Thunderwatch. There are technological aspects to the prison itself, but there’s just as much magic keeping these creatures confined. Even the mechanical bugs that deliver messages have a magical element to their operation.

So, while Grevared does have steam trains and bionic implants, their technology as we think about it isn’t on the same level with that in our world, and their needs and desires make it unlikely that it ever will be. Even in the Xaggarene Empire, the most technologically advanced of the lands, power lines aren’t likely to become popular. Too much of their technology is dependent on magic.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs




Ravyn's LetterI’m one of those people who loves to create worlds, and when I create a world, I want to create all of it. I want maps of everything, cultures to inhabit it, stories, history, religion, magic, and language. And I was well on my way to having all of that.

Then I moved.

Somehow, in the process of moving, the notebook I had written the grammar rules and such in disappeared. It’s a loss, I’ll agree, but it also gives me the opportunity to make some changes to the language and make it more in line with what I want it to be. To that effect, I’m not mourning the loss of the notebook. Instead, I’m going to begin at the beginning and make something that was better than the original. The only down side I can see is that the letter Ravyn Grimsbane left to her daughter Gwennyth will have to be a dialect not spoken anywhere else. But that’s okay, too.

What aspects of world-building are your favorite? Do you relish the opportunity to make changes? Feel free to comment.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs


Melon Peckers – Trial and Error

Kiwano FruitI’m a big one on world-building. It is, in fact, one of my favorite things to do. That being the case, I love to come up with recipes for foods and drinks mentioned in my books.

The Melon Peckers and Nutty Fluffies mentioned by Timothy and Justin in Wolf in the Shadow have given me particular issues. I just haven’t been able to come up with anything that seemed like it would work. After all, exotic and ‘not of this world’ or not, I still want them to be edible. Mostly.

I think I’ve finally come up with something that might work for the Melon Peckers.


1 lb watermelon (seeds removed)

1 kiwano melon (seeds removed)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 c brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 c club soda

vodka (optional)

mint leaves for garnish

crushed ice

Puree the fruit until smooth. Add lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar and blend. Add club soda and vodka. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves.

This is still in the early phases of development. I’m trying to decide if I want to try it with dragon fruit or not. I think it would be interesting.

If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out.

Best wishes!




The Demons of Moirena

IMG_20170422_165301The lands of Grevared are home to beings of all races. The Xaggarene Empire is primarily human, and it is the place of least tolerance of others. E’ma Thalas is home to the elves, fairies, and similar beings. Corleon is primarily human, but it is a tolerant place and has its share of Halflings. The Kingdom of Emerell is almost exclusively dwarven, and they have no desire for others to live among them, though a few Halflings call the land home. The southern half of Moirena is mostly human, but the northern half is inhabited by the demons, demons of all kinds and from all hells.

Our lore is full of references to demons.

There’s Asag from Sumerian mythology, a demon so hideous he’s said to cause fish to boil in his presence. His allies are the rocks of the mountains, and he’s best known from The Epic of Anzu and his defeat by the god Ninurta, using his mace Sharur.

Others come from Judeo-Christian mythology and are well-known, not only from the sacred texts, but also from popular culture. After all, who hasn’t seen The Exorcist? And we can’t forget the texts of old such as Daemonologie of King James I.

The demons of Grevared, however, aren’t allowed the luxury of their own plane, and it isn’t a place where live beings can posses others. The demons of Moirena have physical bodies just as the humans do. They have had to adapt to living with other beings, whether they like it or not, and many have developed a culture all their own. There is the Academe of Jitradena, which is known as one of the best universities in Grevared. This is one place where other species are allowed to exist unhindered, mostly, though, in truth, the demons would much rather the others simply leave them be. Ilkorenthatas, a demon from Pistonicle, was the first to develop the technology that allowed travel through the void, so there have been some benefits to all races for having the demons present.

But they are still demons.

While cities like Jitradena may be civilized in comparison to the way the demon realms are portrayed in most popular culture, it is still home to demons, and, as such, a place where death and dismemberment are common. Even the professors of the Academe long for a return to the old ways and want to dominate the other species, for they view them as nothing more than food. Laws exist, but these are mere guidelines, and a body lying in the street is likely to be eaten by the one who killed it. Cities such as Pistofficle don’t even pretend to bow to human convention, and demons regularly battle for power over their brethren.

Their holidays are no different. There are some who celebrate Yuletide and the like, but they consider this a time of mourning rather than a happy time. There are other demon holidays, or there will be once I figure out what they are, but they aren’t celebrations humans, especially those in our world, would want to attend.

All that being said, treaties have been made between the demons and the other species which allow peace of a sort to be maintained, and it is rare for the demons to venture into southern Moirena or cross the mountains into The Kingdom of Emerell. Be warned, thought, that their recipes are not for the faint of heart.

With the invention of the Cold Box, even demons now have a way to keep their food cold, and one of their favorite treats is ice cream. Those with a squeamish stomach or tender sensibilities may want to stop here.

The most popular of all ice creams is that containing bits and pieces of dead creatures, with human being preferred. When this isn’t available, other creatures will do.

Now, in our world, it’s frowned upon to make ice cream out of fairies and the like, but if you have a twisted sense of humor, there is a recipe that is perfectly acceptable, if a little odd.

Bunny Chunk Ice Cream

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 can condensed milk


1 package caramel

1 hollow chocolate bunny

red, blue, and green food coloring

several large marshmallows

powdered sugar

Break the chocolate bunny into small pieces, keeping parts of the head intact. Set aside.

Pour the whipping cream into a bowl and whip it until it is nice and thick. This will take several minutes, and it is done when the ripples remain. Add the vanilla and the condensed milk and whip again until the ripples remain.

Melt the marshmallows in the microwave. Add a bit of red, blue, and green food coloring until it has a sickly gray color. Add powdered sugar until it is thick enough to mold. Mold the marshmallows into entrail shapes.

Melt the caramels in a double boiler and add some red food coloring. Fold into the ice cream. Add the marshmallow entrails and the bits of chocolate rabbit. Keep the face pieces out. Fold carefully so that colors don’t smear.

Pour into a container suitable for freezing. Place the face pieces on top. Add drops of red food coloring near the face pieces and other bits that are on top. This will help the ice cream “bleed”.

Freeze overnight.

Similar recipes can be used around Halloween when the gummy body parts are sold. For this one, we usually make the ice cream green.

This is also good chocolate flavored. Simply add cocoa powder to taste when mixing the ice cream.

Lissa Dobbs



Asing – The Flora and Fauna of Grevared

Asing Vintage BorderAppearance: The Asing is a creature that possesses the traits of several species. It has plant-like attributes, such as roots and leaves, but it also possesses a somewhat reptilian shell and head. There are parts of its body that are covered with fur, and it is believed that the Asing bears and suckles live young. Adults are rooted creatures without mobility.

Habitat: The only known habitat is in the depths of the forests of E’ma Thalas.

Diet: The Asing eats small birds and animals as well as insects. There is some fear that it will also eat humanoid creatures, though this has not been verified.

Threat: The Asing is a stationary being once it reaches adulthood, so its threat level is considered low unless one is within its reach. The young, however, are mobile and will attach themselves to anyone or anything that passes by. They possess small, sharp teeth and produce a poison. They are considered dangerous.

The asing is one of those creatures that came from my love of documentaries. One of my favorites is Blue Planet, which explores ocean life. Seeing some of these creatures, especially those from the deeper area of the sea, spark imagination like nothing else.

Gwennyth Grimsbane runs into an asing when she first leaves Crowrest on her journey. Its one of the first times she realizes what is really bothering her about the journey and Vonner:

We came across the asing on our second morning.

Vicious creatures that would consume any who stepped within their reach, the asing were the most bizarre creatures I’d ever come across in either study or reality. Tall and treelike, with a reptilian head protruding from the base of their trunks, the asing’s roots kept them anchored in place. That didn’t prevent snapping jaws from clamping onto one’s leg, and the young, born live, had no such restrictions on their mobility. It was the young with which we, or, rather, I, came in contact.

It began as a slight sting just above my ankle boot. I looked down, but the robe I wore – I was close to home, after all, and saw no point in donning the warmer trousers I’d packed for later in the journey – prevented me seeing my legs. I dismissed the sting as nothing more than a briar’s prick and continued through the forest. It didn’t take long for fire to pulse through my blood and pound its way into my head. I stopped, the trees spinning around me, and leaned against a broad-leafed tree, one I knew was innocuous.


Lissa Dobbs


Historical Tidbits

E'ma Thalas and the Xaggarene Empire VintageMy new book, Aradia’s Secret, releases this coming weekend, so I thought I’d share a little of the history that leads up to the events of the story. They’re small snippets that will eventually become larger documents.

4201 AOP (As One Plane): Ashcroft Billinghurst becomes emperor of the Xaggarene Empire.  He establishes the University in Sangeron.

4214 AOP: Reverend Tatersdale Mackle becomes bishop of the Arcana Maximus.  He begins a covert operation to rid the Xaggarene Empire of all those with magical abilities.  The Examiners are formed, and the Arcana gains police power.

4215 AOP: Samara Soulton speaks out against the power of Reverend Mackle.  Wizards follow her.  The movement dies when she disappears. No one knows what happened to her.

4217 AOP: Reverend Tatersdale Mackle moves the headquarters of the Arcana Maximus away from the Xaggarene Empire when his childhood friend, Emperor Ashcroft Billingurst, threatens to ban the institution because of the hunt for magical people.  The Arcana loses some of its hold on the Empire, and magical people become more open.  It is at this time that the Shadow Walkers form their guild and organize their people.

4725 AOP: The Arcana Maximus convinces Lazarus Nicodemus, the emperor, that all those with magical ability should be put to death.  Witches and wizards take refuge in E’ma Thalas.  The Shadow Walkers headquarters moves to Corleon. The seat of the Arcana Maximus remains on its island, but its power over the Xaggarene Empire is reestablished. The witches and wizards of the Xaggarene Empire petition king Oberon and are charged with protecting the northern border of E’ma Thalas.  They build Crowrest Keep and establish their community. Ravyn Grimsbane is their leader.




Dajowjut – The Flora and Fauna of Grevared

Dawjawjut2Appearance: The dajowjut stands about seven feet tall when on its hind legs. It is covered with white fur and has long, pointed ears and talons on the ends of its fingers. With a long snout and teeth made for tearing tough flesh, it can walk on all fours or on its hind legs, and it has the intelligence to use basic tools in the search for food. Humanoid is one of its favorite foods.

Food: The dajowjut eats meat and will track a creature for miles. With its ability to use tools, it will lay snares for its prey.

Habitat: The dajowju inhabits the ice sheets of the Shizzuria Wasteland, but it will sometimes wander into the small towns that surround it.

Threat: The dajowjut is a highly dangerous creature and extremely predatory. It will attack without provocation and will track an individual once it has his scent.


The idea for this creature came from the folklore of the yeti and abominable snowman. I actually came up with it while watching Christmas cartoons. I wanted the Shizzuria Wasteland to be an inhabited place full of danger instead of just a sheet of ice covering a chunk of land. This isn’t the only creature that inhabits this area, and not all of them are deadly. Even though the area is frozen, it is possible, for those with the skills and fortitude, to live there and not starve.

One of my characters, Erastus Hallowell, spent a good deal of time living in the Wasteland when he was younger. The landscape and the woman who rescued him both played a large part in Erastus’s development, and I think he became a better person for living in an unforgiving place.

Lissa Dobbs


Cultures – The Xaggarene Empire

The Kingdom of E'ma Thalas and the Xaggarene EmpireI have a section on my website about the history of Grevared, but it dawned on me that I haven’t really said too much about the cultures that make up the world. So, today we’ll look at the Xaggarene Empire, the country that is featured in Wolf in the Shadow and Rise of the Mad Gods: For Love of Her.

The Xaggarene Empire is the most technologically advanced of all the nations of Grevared. It sits south of E’ma Thalas, home of the elves, and it is the country that is most predominantly human. It is ruled by an emperor, a direct descendant of Arronax Billinghurst, who is credited with building the first generator and uniting the human tribes. The emperor has absolute power, but emperors in the past have been swayed by the suggestions of others, particularly high-ranking members of the Arcana Maximus. In fact, Emperor Lazarus Billinghurst was persuaded to sign an edict banishing all those of magical blood. This led to a mass exodus of wizards and witches, and many of them were killed by Arcana Examiners. This is how Ravyn Grimsbane, mother of Gwennyth Grimsbane, wound up in E’ma Thalas. It is also why the Shadow Walker guild headquarters is in Corleon.

The Arcana Maximus and the worship of Inyokamor, the great snake who holds the lands of Grevared on her coils, are the predominating religious beliefs. There are some others, but these are discouraged, often forcefully by Arcana Examiners, particularly in the two largest cities, Sangeron (the capital) and Freywater. There’s a lot more variation in the smaller towns and villages. Black Crystal, for example, is home to a large contingent of Harmarayon, a somewhat insular group that believes the Arcana’s disposal of human spirits is evil.

But that’s just broad topic stuff. In my upcoming book, Gwennyth Grimsbane, a wizard from E’ma Thalas, visits Sangeron for the first time. She describes the city in the following paragraphs:

“From the deck of the ship, Sangeron looked like nothing more than a collection of boxes crowded together and covered in a black cloud of coal smoke. Noises like I’d never heard before assaulted my ears and rattled my nerves.”

“The town passed by the window, and the diversity of the buildings and people boggled my mind. I’d never seen the like of the dresses worn by what I assumed were the more affluent women. They were beautiful, with flared skirts trimmed in lace and ribbon, and the sheer variation in color was riveting. Likewise, the leather trousers, shaved heads, and tattoos that covered others took my breath away, especially being from Crowrest, where so much of our culture was based on that of the elven people. We lived a simple life in harmony with the forest around us, something I wasn’t sure the people of Sangeron even remembered how to do, not if the filth and clutter around me were any indication of their mindset.”

And this is just a taste of the diversity of the Empire. On the one hand, there are generators that provide electricity, the University that produces highly educated individuals, and factories that produce things like Fizzy Drinks. On the other hand, there are small towns where oil lamps are still the norm and most people live off the land. A railroad connects all of these, and the sound of steam engines is common. Besides technology, though, there is little uniting the humans of the Xaggarene Empire, other than the emperor’s rule. In Freywater and Sangeron, there’s little sense of community outside of one’s small area, and those who are different tend to be suspect. The small towns are not as harsh, and people there come together a little more, but it’s nothing like the common beliefs seen in E’ma Thalas or the Kingdom of Emerell.

It’s funny. Until I sat down to write it out, it didn’t dawn on me just how little commonality the people of the Xaggarene Empire have with each other. Even sitting here thinking about it, I don’t feel a sense of common culture or common good like I do with the other countries; it feels more like a random group of ants tossed together, yet they are a country, and communities exist. It makes me wonder if maybe some of the things going on underneath the surface (I won’t give spoilers) may have something to do with it. It’s something to consider, and it will give me several hours, at least, of things to think about as I delve ever deeper into this world.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs


How the Florinsekt Came to Be



This is one of the tales collected by Malkin and Millicent Boffleblossom during their time in E’ma Thalas. Millicent loved the tale, but Malkin had some doubts as to its authenticity. He claimed that the elf who told the story made it up on the spot, but Millicent swears she heard the tale from others in the community as well.


In the land of Tir Na Nog, where the light never ceased to shine, there lived a tiny pixie by the name of Frost Sparkle. Now Frost Sparkle was a frost fairy that gloried in touching the autumn leaves and lacing them with delicate veils of ice. Each year she looked forward to the time when the Winter Queen would tell her it was time to go to work, but each year it seemed to take longer and longer for the winter season to come.

Well, Frost Sparkle wasn’t the most patient of pixies, and she took to asking the Winter Queen every day if it was time to go to frost the leaves. And each day the Winter Queen said, “Not yet, Frost Sparkle, but very soon.”

Each time she heard this, Frost Sparkle would stomp her foot and ask, “Why can’t we go today?”

But the Winter Queen simply shook her head and smiled and sent Frost Sparkle on her way.

After days and days of this, as the weather gradually cooled and the autumn pixies took to painting the leaves in the reds, yellows, and browns of fall, Frost Sparkle’s patience ran out. She watched the autumn pixies flit among the leaves with their paints and magics, and she ached to go behind them and add her own sparkle to their work. She hopped from one foot to the other and beat her wings as fast as she could.

Finally, she could wait no longer, and she reached out a tiny finger and touched the edge of a leaf. Immediately, it was covered with a delicate lace of frost, and the autumn pixies cried out in anger. Their cries attracted the attention of the Autumn Queen, and she hurried to see what had happened. When the autumn pixies told her what Frost Sparkle had done, the Autumn Queen turned to the pixie.

“That was wrong of you, Frost Sparkle. I will have to speak with the Winter Queen about this.” Her face turned red, and fire appeared in her eyes. It was against the laws of the land of fairy for pixies to work in the wrong season.

Frost Sparkle’s little heart beat hard in her chest, for she knew the Winter Queen would punish her most harshly. With a cry of despair, Frost Sparkle jumped into the air and flew as fast as she could to a deserted part of the forest.

Frost Sparkle plopped onto a spot of moss and pulled her knees up to her chin. Her wings beat her agitation, and she squeezed her legs as tightly as she could. She wanted to work. She wanted to create. She couldn’t stand this waiting! She screamed as loud as her little voice would go, and she beat her fists on the moss bed and stomped her tiny feet. And when she was all spent, she lay down and cried.

Her cries did not go unnoticed. A beetle, wisest among the insects, heard her shrieks and came to see what all the fuss was about.

Frost Sparkle sat up and wiped the tears from her eyes. She told the beetle what she’d done and that the Winter Queen would punish her. The beetle took pity on the poor pixie, for he knew the wrath of the Winter Queen.

“I can help you,” he said.

Frost Sparkle climbed to her feet and bowed to him. “Please, Sir Beetle.”

The beetle nodded once and led Frost Sparkle deep into the forest. She shivered as she made her way through dense brush and across thick vines. It was dark here, much darker than she’d ever seen, and Frost Sparkle was frightened.

At last the beetle stopped beside a small flower, one with bright red petals and a silver center. Frost Sparkle looked at the flower then back to the beetle.

“You will become one with the flower,” he said. “That way the Winter Queen cannot punish you.”

Frost Sparkle tilted her head to the side and examined the flower. It seemed to droop in the darkness, as if it were sad. She looked back at the beetle, who fluttered his wings. “Why does the flower need me?”

“The flower cannot grow here,” the beetle said. “It is too dark. If you join with the flower, you will be able to take it into the light.”

This made sense to Frost Sparkle, so she agreed. The beetle flapped his wings and lifted into the air. A golden nimbus of magic surrounded him, and Frost Sparkle stared in awe at his beauty. He lifted his front leg and sent the magic into Frost Sparkle. It surrounded her and pulled at her, and she cried out from the pain. Her wings stretched along the petals of the flower, and her head shrunk until it just fit the center. Her arms became one with the calyx, and her legs joined the stem.

When next she knew, Frost Sparkle was one with the red-petaled flower. She stretched her wings, now petals, and pulled with her feet, now the stem, to lift the flower from its roots. She spun and spun until she was high above the trees. The flower took over from there and stretched its leaves to catch the light of Tir Na Nog. Frost Sparkle gloried in its joy and directed the flower throughout the land to see the sights and feel the light.

And from that day on, the flying flower, part pixie/part flower was known as the florinsekt, which meant flower bug, and it was one of the few small creatures of Tir Na Nog that survived the Catastrophe.

Lissa Dobbs